NOAA forecasts 'near-normal' hurricane season, Va. gives tax break

The Atlantic hurricane season doesn't officially get underway until Friday, but we've already seen two tropical systems.

While we see powerful storms typically churn off the coast of Florida, last year the D.C. region felt the impact of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

"While this is only the third time in history we've seen two named storms develop before the official start of the season, it doesn't necessarily mean we have a busy hurricane season ahead of us," says Chris Vaccaro a NOAA spokesperson. "In fact we're forecasting a near normal hurricane season."

According to NOAA , that means a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms.

"And of those nine to 15, four to eight could become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes," Vacarro says.

Last year Hurricane Irene left more than $15 billion in damage, and killed dozens of people.

"And that was the first hurricane to affect the U.S. in three years," Vaccaro says.

While we may see less hurricane activity in 2012 compared to the last two years, NOAA says it's wise to prepare for Mother Nature's unpredictability.

"It just takes one storm to hit land to make it a bad season," Vaccaro says.

So, residents are advised to prepare in advance. Since last Friday, Virginia has been offering a tax break for weather emergency essentials including radios, flashlights, first-aid kits and duct tape.

"Last year during the hurricane, we went through a lot of flashlights and batteries and a fair number of tarps, probably as much of it after the storm as before it," says Mike Egbert, general manager of Cherrydale Hardware in Arlington.

Egbert says the tax holiday usually goes unnoticed by customers.

"Most of the time when a customer comes in they pick up something they're going to buy anyway, and are pleasantly surprised by it being on sale," he says.

The tax holiday ends Thursday, and the items that you decide to pick up all need to be under $60. For more information check out

Details and a a complete list of qualifying productsare here: May Sales Tax Holiday: Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness Equipment